Start in Romans #3

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office (Romans 11:13 KJV).

Why should people new to the Bible begin in the Book of Romans? Today’s Scripture tells us.

It is usually said that people should start reading God’s Word in the Book of John. However well meaning this is, it is spiritually hazardous. Christ’s earthly ministry, Matthew through John, was to and about the nation Israel, not us Gentiles: “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). Moreover, John’s goal is confirming to Israel that Jesus is her Messiah because He conducted a ministry of signs, special teaching miracles, in her midst (see John 20:30,31). “The Jews [not us Gentiles] require a sign” (1 Corinthians 1:22).

Paul is God’s messenger to us non-Jews (today’s Scripture). Ephesians 3:1-2 elaborates: “For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward….” Romans 16:25-26 says God wants to “stablish” (stabilize) us Gentiles using three components: (1) Paul’s Gospel, (2) the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery, and (3) the Scriptures of the prophets. Paul’s Gospel is laid out first, and most clearly, in the Bible in the Book of Romans, the head, or introductory book, of his 13 epistles (Romans through Philemon).

Romans is divided into four sections. Chapters 1-5 deal with justification, or how to have our sins forgiven and a home in heaven. Chapters 6-8 discuss sanctification, or how that Gospel of Grace has changed our identity from Adam to Christ. Chapters 9-11 covers dispensational changes—we are not the nation Israel, but rather the Church the Body of Christ, with Israel still having a future in God’s program. Chapters 12-16 are application, or how we are to by faith use the grace principles in Romans so our lives can glorify our Lord and Saviour!

Friend, you will not mature in grace if you begin the Bible in the wrong place. Using John as an introduction to the Bible will hinder you from laying the Scriptural foundation God intended for you. Start in Romans! 🙂

An Eternal House in the Heavens #10

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1 KJV).

God already sees it! By faith, do you?

In the prophetic program (past or future), God forms a bloodline of a literal, physical, visible, earthly people—the nation Israel. Accordingly, He demands they perform literal, physical, visible, earthly works—physical circumcision, water baptism, tithing, Sabbath-Day observance, confession of sins, and so on. Moreover, He promises them literal, physical, visible, earthly demonstrations of His power—healed bodies, bountiful harvests, military victories, et cetera (signs, miracles, and wonders).

However, in the mystery program, our present-day, God is forming a spiritual, invisible, heavenly people—although just as real as Israel. The Bible calls it “the Church the Body of Christ,” people “blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). In our Dispensation of Grace, Father God is not forming a literal, physical, visible group of believers. Therefore, we are not looking for literal, physical, visible, earthly works of God. We are to be looking, with the eyes of faith, at the invisible, spiritual works of God (2 Corinthians 4:18; today’s Scripture). One of these invisible, spiritual blessings is a glorified body, “eternal in the heavens.”

Ironically, “faith healers” are actually emboldening doubt rather than faith. They would have us walk by sight when Scripture instructs us to walk by faith. We do not have to see God visibly working to know He is with us. Rather, we know He is with us because His Word says His Holy Spirit is working in us to produce Christ’s life: “That [Father God] would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith…” (Ephesians 3:16,17).

Saints, divine physical healing for our dispensation will occur at the Rapture. God is not interested in temporarily restoring these aging, weakening bodies. When the Lord Jesus Christ returns in the air to take us away to Heaven, we the Body of Christ will receive glorified bodies like unto Jesus Christ’s resurrected, glorious body (Philippians 3:20,21). Until then, we say “Amen!” 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Who are the people in 2 Corinthians 11:22—the 12 Apostles, or others?

An Eternal House in the Heavens #2

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1 KJV).

You may not see it, but God already does!

A dear friend of mine has been entangled in the “Charismatic Movement” for years. She thus boasts of her “gift of healing.” (Her husband and one of her friends both died of cancer years back.) Afflicted by chronic illness herself, she talks about how she has visited her sick and aging friends in nursing homes, praying and “laying hands” on them to restore their health. (She still visits the same people at those same institutions!) While she has a testimony of salvation in Christ, she is a most confused lady concerning the Bible. She always seeks “signs and wonders” to know God is working.

Friends, since it has utterly failed to uphold the Word of God rightly divided, the Church the Body of Christ is largely caught up in thinking and behaving like Bible skeptics. You ask an atheist what it would take before he or she would “believe in God,” and he or she will probably reply, “If only I could see this miracle happen or that miracle occur, I would believe in God.” In other words, “I will not believe unless I see God working.” Friend, do you know anyone like that in Scripture?

Why, chapter John 20 says of “doubting Thomas:” “[25] The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe…. [27] Then saith [Jesus] to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. [28] And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. [29] Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”

If only we would “believe without seeing….”

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What Gospel message did Lazarus believe to wind up in Abraham’s bosom?

Given Versus Came #1

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17 KJV).

One is distant; the other is near.

The Jews were cruelly enslaved—in bondage to Egypt, sin, and Satan. God heard their cries for help, and He brought to mind the covenant He had made with their fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. After destroying Egypt with 10 plagues, defeating Pharaoh and his idols, the God of the Hebrews brought His people across the Red Sea with a mighty hand. Those miracles should have caused Israel to see they would have to rely on God rather than their religious works. It would be His works, not theirs.

In His grace, JEHOVAH God gave Israel everything she needed. They desired deliverance from Egypt; He gave it (Exodus 14:1–15:22). They wanted potable water; He provided it (15:23-26). They wanted food; He furnished them with manna and quail (16:1-36). They desired drinkable water; He offered it to them (17:1-7). He gave them military victory over their enemies, the Amalekites (17:8-16). After seeing God’s faithfulness to them, amazingly, the Jews overlooked it and pompously declared they could now be faithful to God. After all of their complaining and doubt in the previous chapters, they claimed they would now obey God!

We read the LORD’S words to Moses in Exodus 19:4-6: “[4] Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. [5] Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: [6] And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.” After emphasizing what He did for them (verse 4), highlighting their weaknesses and deficiencies, He tested them (verses 5,6). “Do you want to be My people based on what you do?” Verse 8 says: “And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do.”

How will the LORD respond? How will this affect His relationship with Israel?

Lifted and Fallen #4

Saturday, February 11, 2017

“Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:12,13 KJV).

Does the Bible teach “entire sanctification?” Today’s Scripture screams, NO!

“I would never do what he or she did!” We Christians may deceive ourselves into thinking we no longer sin. Religion (and self-righteousness)—not Scripture—led us to that conclusion. Friends, remember poor Israel as described in the context of today’s Scripture! We too are Adam’s sons and daughters, heirs of the same sin nature that drove the Jews to unbelief and disobedience! The same evil world system that existed 3,000 years ago, when Moses led Israel, is still with us today. Conditions are ripe for us—yes, us in Christ—to sin! We had better beware, and not puff out our chests in overconfidence.

Satan still uses false religion to intoxicate people—even genuine Christians— into believing lies straight from the pits of hell. They ignore the provisions God has offered us in Christ. All they do is complain and argue. His King James Bible is not perfect enough. The crosswork of His Son is good, but they also want to do their own works to gain God’s blessings. They ridicule Paul, His apostle to the Gentiles. They steal all of Israel’s blessings and make them their own—water baptism, tithing, spiritual gifts (particularly tongues and healing), material blessings, divine earthly government, prayer promises, Sabbath day, kosher food laws, end-time prophecies, et cetera.

Rather than staying with the doctrine to and about Church the Body of Christ, Romans through Philemon, they wander all over the Bible, yanking legalistic verses out of context in order to force them onto us today. No wonder they are so confused. Unless they start using the Bible dispensationally, they will remain confused! Committing such sins of the spirit is just as offensive to God as pursuing the sins of the flesh….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why do 1 Corinthians 10:8 and Numbers 25:9 disagree?

Large Print #3

Monday, January 30, 2017

“Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand” (Galatians 6:11 KJV).

What can today’s Scripture teach us about the Apostle Paul?

Paul’s physical vision was greatly hindered. Consequently, he wrote in large, block letters (especially with Galatians). What caused his vision issues? Various explanations have been offered. Perhaps it was permanent damage caused by the bright glory of Jesus Christ that he saw in Acts 9:1-9. After all, he had spent the next three days blind! While God through believing Ananias miraculously restored Paul’s vision, there could have been lasting effects. Another idea was that Paul suffered chronic “conjunctivitis” (commonly called “pink eye,” “ophthalmia,” or eye inflammation). Yet another possibility is that his poor eyesight was the result of abuse, physical violence inflicted by ruthless unbelievers. While conducting his “Acts” ministry, performing miraculous demonstrations, Paul himself battled physical infirmities (Galatians 4:13-15; cf. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

Regardless of why Paul had poor eyesight, the text of Galatians, likely his first epistle, was quite LARGE (today’s Scripture). It was not without benefit to the Galatians, saints caught in Satan’s snare (2 Timothy 2:26) and needing the Holy Spirit to send them a clear, attention-grabbing correction. Galatians’ GIANT letters screamed of Paul’s unique apostleship (1:1,11,12,16,17,19,22; 2:8; et cetera) and screamed of his special Gospel message (2:2,7,9,16,20,21; et cetera). “You are to follow Paul, not Moses!” “You are under Grace, not Law!” “Paul is not an extension of the 12 Apostles!” “Paul’s Gospel is your Gospel message!” “You are Gentiles in the Body of Christ, not members of the nation Israel!”

Saints, while neither time nor space permits us to discuss it in-depth, read the conclusion of Galatians (today’s Scripture to the end—only eight verses). You can see the Holy Spirit through Paul urging the Galatians one final time to leave the stipulations of the Mosaic Law, works-religion, and enjoy God’s grace, peace, and victory. Paul had limited physical sight, but this epistle to Galatia is a real “eye-opener,” giving great insight to us today, that we may have the same stunningly clear spiritual sight he had! (In one last twist of irony, people in religion today often enjoy physical sight, but are blind to the blatant teachings of Galatians.)

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Who is the ‘child’ of Revelation 12:1-5?

Large Print #2

Sunday, January 29, 2017

“Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand” (Galatians 6:11 KJV).

What can today’s Scripture teach us about the Apostle Paul?

Paul usually employed a secretary to physically write his epistles; he would sign his name at the end as a sign of authority (see Romans 16:22; 1 Corinthians 16:21; Colossians 4:18; 2 Thessalonians 3:17). However, Galatians was unique. Its autograph—or original manuscript—was physically written entirely by Paul. The Apostle was in such a hurry to “sound the alarm” for the Galatians to beware of the doctrinal error besieging them. He had no time to wait for a secretary to come and assist! Since Paul penned Galatians entirely by himself, that original manuscript was exceptionally striking. It easily grabbed the attention of its readers.

In Galatians chapter 4, verses 13-15, we see the following: “[13] Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first. [14] And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. [15] Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.” These few verses actually allow us to learn about Paul the man. Doubtless, our beloved brother suffered severe vision problems. We can imagine his eyes straining to see to write. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit superintended, so that not a word or letter was lost as Galatians was literally drafted on papyrus.

Dear friends, had we seen the original manuscript of Galatians, the first thing to grab our attention would be its text. It would have been very large Greek letters. It would be no different from today’s large-print Bibles—whose fonts are designed for easy readability. However, in the case of Galatians, the words were not written large for the sake of visually-impaired readers. No, those large letters were for the benefit of the visually-impaired writer, so he could see exactly what he was penning. Then again, there is a strong indication that those large letters were written for the readers’ benefit as well….